Monday, July 16, 2018

Acts 23:12 -35 ”Killing in the Name of God?”


Previously we have seen that Paul had come to Jerusalem, back from his ministry to the   gentiles in Asia and Greece and Macedonia. His intention was to bring a monetary gift, collected by the gentile churches who had it in their hearts to help their impoverished Jewish brothers in Jerusalem. Paul went to Jerusalem against all human advice.  Everyone,   and Paul  knew that he  was going  into the lion’s den (21:13). And so, just as it was said, it happened. Paul was recognized in the temple and falsely accused of teaching against the law of Moses, and also accused of having brought a gentile into the court of the Jews. An angry mob gathered around him, and he would have been killed then and there, had it not been for the intervention of the Roman garrison from the Antonia fortress adjoining the temple precincts. 
The Roman soldiers (once they had established that he was not an Egyptian terrorist cf. 21:38) permitted Paul to defend himself, but his defense (21:40 – 22:22) resulted in a repeated call by the Jews to have him done away with (22:22).  Again the Romans protect him. But they wanted to know the reason  as to why  the Jews  hated Paul so much, and so in 22:30-23:10  we  find  that Paul is given  an opportunity to address the Sanhedrin, the council of 70 Jewish leaders  made up from the  sect of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. 
That meeting does not go well right from the start, and it ends with the Sadducees and Pharisees disagreeing among themselves concerning the matter of the resurrection. And so, as chaos ensues among themselves, Paul is saved once again in the midst of it all.  
The writer  of the book of Acts, the Gospel author Luke, shows us  that behind it all  there is the divine hand of God, frustrating the schemes of human beings and ordering all things so that His purposes for the advance  of the Gospel will  prevail .  And so Paul is taken back into custody again at the Antonia Fortress.  A dramatic story now unfolds.

A Deadly Plot (23:12-15)

By now the Romans have rescued Paul twice from the Jews. (21:32-36; 23:10; see also 22:22-24). But the Jews are not giving up. They are fiercely determined to do away with Paul,  and not just Paul. They want to do away with the Gospel of  the Jesus  whom they  had crucified. Luke consistently highlights Israel's rejection of the gospel as it was preached by Paul.

And so it is that we read that more than forty men take an oath (anathema) - a curse oath-  an imprecatory oath.  They were prepared to die in order to see this oath carried out. According to this oath they swore that they would not eat nor drink until Paul was dead (23:12,14,21). In their minds, Paul was an offender against the holy law and against the holy temple. In their minds there was the thinking, that they needed to get rid of Paul because he  had defiled law and temple. In their minds only Paul's  death could  atone  for this, and  so hey are prepared to take on themselves that curse, if God's offended holiness is not avenged. One commentator says that this vow is an extension of a commitment to remove the curse of God from a defiled temple by seeing to it that the perpetrator will experience death "at the hands of heaven" [1]

We need to stop here and think this one through, because this is precisely the reason  why  many religious groups  justify their killings in the Name of God. I  don’t know whether you remember the writer, Salman Rushdie (who calls himself a lapsed Muslim and now even a hard core atheist[2]), who wrote the  book , “Satanic Verses”.  Many Muslims took offence at this book and  they  accused Rushdie of blasphemy and in 1989 the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa (a Muslim clergy ruling) ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie. Numerous killings, attempted killings, and bombings resulted from violent Muslims over this book.  The motive is very similar. Muslims felt that the Qu’ran  and  the honour of Allah were at stake, and so in their minds  Rushdie needed  to die. Rushdie  is  no saint and no Paul, by the way, and he is not a faithful husband, having 4 failed marriages behind him.

But what is the common issue behind both these stories? It is this. Men are forever trying to defend the honour of God and   His institutions upon the earth. They feel themselves to be His spokesmen and agents and executioners. 
But here is the BIG question. If God is God, the living, all powerful, all seeing, all present sovereign  God, intimately  involved in the history of this world, then   who needs to defend Him? 
Indeed who can defend Him?  Surely God can defend himself! And He will not need to  defend Himself as one  who is accused, for God in His very essence and being  cannot be accused! He does not need human zealots and armies to defend Himself.  God needs no defender. In fact, He is the Judge! The Bible teaches that He has appointed a day in which He will bring His own terrible wrath to bear upon all the enemies of the gospel, and upon all who have failed to embrace and kiss the Son (Psalm 2), who is  the ONLY Saviour from the wrath of God.

So then, behind  this story in Acts  is a Jewish faith  that is so far gone and  so very far removed  from God. This is no faith. It is a religious system  which has God in a box. It has  a small view of God. Their god  must be defended. 
How different is Paul’s view. He knows  that  God is sovereign . He knows that God's purpose will stand.  He knows himself to be in the hands of  the true truth  of Almighty God (see  23:11) 
   
So then, those who place themselves under a curse in order to remove a curse assume that they are in the will of God, but they are really revealing  what is true of them. They know nothing of the One true God. They are enemies of the cross of Christ. They are brute beasts, ignorant fools,  dead in their sins and therefore they are  under God's condemnation and they will only increase their punishment by taking such action against Paul, a messenger of the gospel. He was once one of them. But his eyes had been opened (Acts 9).
And so  they  ask the chief priests and the elders  to get Paul   from the Antonia fortress to come to them yet again under the  pretext  that they  wish to  get  more accurate information,  but the real purpose will be to kill him[3].
Persecutors of the gospel have no interest in  hearing the truth. All they know is that it conflicts  with their views of  the small god which they have created in their minds, and whom they need to defend in such violent ways.  
What did Paul ever do to these men? He simply  declared  what the OT already had said about the Messiah. He simply preached that which  the OT  taught  and  showed implicitly:  no one  can be saved  by the works of the Law, but by faith alone in the Messiah, Jesus Christ alone. That is what had offended the  Jewish  people, and the result was  this violent reaction.  The violence  that the unconverted heart is capable of -  there's something satanic about it.

Divine Providence (23:16-22)

Paul's nephew, a young man (yes! Paul had family- he had a sister and a nephew that we know of  from this text),  heard of this plot (literally "ambush"). He reports it to Paul, who then sends him with a  message by by way  of a centurion to the Tribune, the Roman commander. In a kindly (by the hand) and discreet way (he drew him aside), the commander interrogates the nephew. The commander takes the plot seriously, asking the young man not tell anyone about this.   In all this we see the Hand of God as He rules and overrules fulfill His saving purposes. “No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the LORD.” (Prov. 21:30). All this does not  mean that human beings do not  play an essential role. They do! The nephew, the apostle, the  centurion and the  tribune all are essential to seeing that this evil plot is foiled.  Paul must  testify also in Rome!”(23:11)

Roman Precautions& Protection  (23:23-35)

The commander calls two of his centurions and orders them to prepare for Paul's transfer to Caesarea. Two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen indicate that the Romans take this threat very seriously.  They are to leave under the cover of darkness for Caesarea on the coast, the provincial capital for Judea. It is  amazing to see this, isn’t it? God uses   the Roman government  to protect  His prime witness to the Lord Jesus. It all shows us who is really in charge in this world.   

The next step  in Paul’s witness is  that he needs to appear before Felix, the Roman governor of the province. The attached letter from Claudius Lycias, the commander  of Fort Antonia  in vv.25-30 provides the open door into the governor’s presence. This governor,  Felix was once a slave, but he was freed by the emperor  Claudius, probably because he was a very competent man and loyal servant of Rome. Felix's tenure as governor  was marked by ongoing disturbances among the people, whether from   Jewish terrorist  groups  against Roman  outposts and  sicarii, i.e. assassins with their "short daggers", or  from  messianic impostors and  false prophets.  He responded in brutal kind  and this  made him even more unpopular, and it stirred up more unrest. 
Tacitus (c. 56 – c. 120 AD) was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire and  said that he "practiced every kind of cruelty and lust, wielding the power of king with all the instincts of a slave" .

The letter  gives the essential introduction and details  to Paul’s  situation. His assessment, is accurate. The charges brought against  Paul and  the Christians by the  Jews are theological, stemming from an internal religious disagreement  (see also 18:15; 25:19). As far as Roman law is concerned,  Paul is innocent.  

By example and testimony the commander reminds us of three things  concerning the interrelationship of the Christian and the state: (Source:  footnote 1) 
1. The state's proper role is to protect the rights of its citizens (Rom 13:4; 1 Tim 2:2-4). This the Christian may insist on.
2. The state is incompetent to make judgments on theological/religious matters.  The things of Caesar belong to Caesar. The things of God belong to God  (Lk. 20:25).
3. Christians must follow their Lord's example in guarding their innocence before the laws of the state ( see Acts 25:8, 10-11, 18-19; 26:31-32)

The 60 kilometre  journey to  Antipatris happens  without incident. The topography and most suitable to Jewish ambush lie behind them now. Ahead lies a flat coastal plain inhabited predominantly by Gentiles. The infantry and spearmen can return home while the cavalry takes Paul the remaining  40 kilometres  to Caesarea. There the officers delivered the letter to the governor and handed Paul over to him.  God  has used the  Roman empire  to protect his gospel messenger.

We have learned two great lessons from this text:
1.     Killing in the Name of God, such as it is displayed here and in many modern examples is based on a poor understanding of the one   true  God. The killing in the Name of God in the Old Testament   is of a very different  kind and origin.  In those cases God Himself, after much warning , forbearing and patience  with  evil nations directed  Moses and Joshua and David to exercise His judgement upon them. It was a unique  time and commission  in biblical history. All  that is a foreshadowing of the great judgement to come at which time  the sovereign God of the Universe will dispose of all His enemies.  New Testament Christians  have no such mandate, and they  do not have  to protect God. They do not have to kill  God’s enemies. They  do not  have to  go on Crusades to drive their enemies away from any holy land. The earth IS the Lord’s, and His judgement is coming. 
2.    God is able  to vindicate His own cause and protect His Gospel witnesses. They are immortal until their work is done.


[1] https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/Acts/Plot-Uncovered-Paul-Taken
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salman_Rushdie
[3] Anaireo :  Acts 23:15, 21; 25:3; compare Lk 22:2; Acts 21:36; 22:22.

Monday, July 2, 2018

2 Timothy 2:14-26 "Watch your Words, Watch your Life!"


Oh the importance of the spoken and written Word! It is significant  that the gospel of John  introduces us  to  the Lord Jesus Christ in these  words -  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and   the Word was  God.” (Jn. 1:1).  The Lord Jesus Christ is the Word (logos) of God.  By sending Jesus, the eternal God  communicated His word to us. In fact He is the first and  He is the final Word (Hebrew 1:1-3). And Jesus by His Holy Spirit instructed His apostles  to  pass on His Word from generation to  generation (2 Tim 2:2).That is  why we  Christians are  the people of  the Book. “This is the Revelation from God  of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that soon must take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the Word of God  and to the testimony of Jesus Christ..” (Revelation 1:1)

Last time we saw that the  word of truth  was passed on  in ‘trustworthy sayings’  (2:11-13):  “If we have  died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot deny himself” (2:11-13). These are of central and cardinal importance for every Christian. They are truth statements. They are absolute truths to live by. 
That is why Paul says in 2:14, “Timothy, keep reminding them of these things – these important words.” But as soon  as he has stressed  the importance that  these important words must be brought to the congregation at Ephesus,  he  launches into a lengthy  discussion  concerning the subversive, undermining    noise that (i)  words and  (ii)  actions  can have. Actions form an important consideration of our text  today,  and it has often been said, “actions speak louder than words!”
So, in context, Paul wants the church at Ephesus to know that a negative use of words must be avoided at all costs in the congregation,   and   he wants Timothy to know that actions and words  must befit that of “one approved, a worker who need not be ashamed” (2:15), it must match that  of   the Lord’s servant” (2:24) in order to fulfill his calling.  The testimony of the true Word is severely undermined when Christian congregations and Christian pastors sinfully misrepresent  the Word of God in their words and in their actions. 

1.     “TIMOTHY,  TELL THE CONGREGATION TO  WATCH THEIR WORDS!”

Charge the congregation not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers (2:14). He repeats this essentially in 2:23.   Now, don't misunderstand Paul. He isn't saying you shouldn't fight about words. In all times in history important battles have been fought over meanings of words and of the importance of certain words in the place of our Christian vocabulary.   There are important words that are being twisted and redefined  by heretics. Words and concepts like justification and sanctification and heaven and hell, and the gospel and even the person and work of Jesus,  and the Holy Spirit – words  and meanings of words like these are constantly  redefined, reinterpreted  and misplaced. We must hold on to the biblical (in- context) meaning of such words.  The Holy Spirit isn’t an influence  from God  or an ‘ it’ ; Jesus is not a created being  or an angel; the gospel is not   a social programme; heaven and hell are not fictitious, but real places; Both, sanctification and justification are because of   God’s primary  initiative, and never of our (or the church’s)  doing. We are responsible  for the outworking of that which has been worked into  us. 

What we are talking about here  in our text  is  a way of talking about words and of arguing about words that actually doesn't edify, that doesn't in the end promote true  clarity   which  leads  to godliness. Paul is thinking about people who simply want to be controversial. You know them.  They ask questions, but they are not interested in the answer–they simply want you to hear how clever they are! They  do not  think of doctrines as primarily true or false, but merely as something  academic, and to argue over, merely for arguments sake.   Such people often  have attended  some form of theological training and therefore they think themselves to be wise. At best they have learned  to quarrel about  words, getting lost in the details,   having forgotten  (or perhaps having never learned) the importance of absorbing the true Word in its totality,   which is  the Truth as it is in Jesus. Jesus does not preoccupy their thinking and vocabulary,   and so they  have become dry wells. They have  sold their books  soon  after leaving seminary. Beware of them! Guard yourselves against such people, for use their tongues to destroy  the faith  of those  who listen.  Paul says that the unguarded tongue “ruins those who listen.”

David was aware of this problem.    In Psalm 141 he prays, “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!”  Solomon gives many helpful insights into the destructive use of the tongue -  “rash words are like sword thrusts” (Prov.12:18);  “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” (Prov. 13:3)  “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge…” (Prov.17:27). That is the mark of a wise man.
And so Paul continues to counsel Timothy  in 2:16-18,  Avoid irreverent  babble, for it will lead people  into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus  and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.” 

Can you see how the  unguarded tongue  progresses to irreverent babble  leading people into more and more ungodliness?  Paul says that this kind of talk has an effect like gangrene in the body. Gangrene is when part of your body tissue dies. This occurs because the tissue is not getting enough blood from your circulatory system. And so drastic action  needs to take place. Body parts, toes, legs  have to be amputated to stop  gangrene from infecting the rest of the body.

People with an irreverent way of talking, and coarse joking, and those that undermine the confidence of young believers in the gospel through false doctrine  or emphasis, can  cause real damage. We have had people like this in the history of our own  church who have led people astray.  Paul even resorts to name calling here. He gives examples. Hymenaeus and Philetus were presumably well known personalities in church circles. They had started well, but now they have swerved from the truth. They were teaching false doctrine and in so doing they were now upsetting the faith of some.  They taught something concerning the resurrection that did not resonate with the testimony of Scripture. Their error started harmlessly… quarrelling about words. They began by indulging in speculative, irreverent babble,  and one is tempted to  overlook this , but there  comes a time when it is right to tell people to stop it, and to warn them before God.  

Do not be guilty of quarrelling about words in the Bible. Do not engage in godless, irreverent babble about the Bible, particularly  if you know little. If you speak, let your speaking about the  Bible be plain, in context,  and  for the  purpose of building others up (Eph. 4:29). This does not mean that you cannot name things for what they are. Jesus said that Herod was a fox, and that the Pharisees were a brood of vipers. To those who defiled the temple, He told them that they had made the house of God a den of robbers. Understand that that was said on account of righteous anger.  God’s glory was offended. When that happens  you  too must speak, but watch it lest you become sinfully angry in the process.   

2.     TIMOTHY, BE  A MODEL  OF GODLY WORDS AND ACTIONS

Timothy needed  to remind and charge his congregation not to quarrel over words. But that was not all that Paul said to Timothy. He had something to say about his personal demeanor as a pastor, for actions speak louder than words. 

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth “ (2:15).
Do your best to present yourself to God.  The God who saves you calls you to obedience. That is how Paul always works out his great doctrines. He begins with the great work of God in salvation and then he tells us, this is how you apply it.   The turning point of his letter to the Romans is found in Chapter 12:1ff. “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice to God, because of all these glorious mercies you have received from him.”  ALL OF YOU…. hands, feet, mind, mouth. EVERYTHING! You present your whole body to him. It is no longer your own.  You were bought at a price. You were rescued from everlasting hell and  the terrible judgement of God,   and now you owe Him your life. 

 Present yourself to God as one approved by God. God is the one who has made it possible for you to present yourself to him. Your name is known in heaven. You have been justified by his grace; you are washed; you are sanctified, and you are approved.  

Present yourself to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed. You are a worker. No sluggard -  you are working unashamedly,  working in God’s field, often  sacrificially, and bearing the scars of your labour.

Present yourself to God as one who correctly handles the word of truth. You cut straight (orthotomeo) the word of truth. The underlying idea is not to get side-tracked in useless and unimportant things. Pastors are to focus on the main things, and to rightly interpret the Bible with a view to seeing the whole of the Bible as the word of God. This is what Hymenaeus and Philetus did not do. They wandered away from the truth. They were not talking straight. Paul is saying, “Timothy, tell it to them straight. Aim for their minds and consciences and affections and wills. Be accurate, plain and simple.  You are not in the ministry to make friends but to make disciples of Jesus Christ. “ That is an unashamed Christian worker, someone who tells it straight.

Flee youthful passions and pursue  righteousness, faith and love, peace … do not be quarrelsome … but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents  with gentleness….  (2:22).  Here is  further amplification of the nature  and deportment of   a gospel minister, and you will see  again  and again that speech and action is critical. It helps  to clarify the gospel  (see  2:25). It helps people to  come to their senses and so escape  from the snare of the devil  after being captured  by him to do his will (2:26).

Isn't it interesting, that one of the  great concerns of the apostle Paul,  just before he dies,  is to say to Timothy, 
  • Make sure  that your people  are trained  not to subvert the gospel through subversive speech. 
  • Make sure  that you preach and live out  accurately the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
On a human level  this  is our responsibility, our  contribution, and God's expectation of us. May the gospel flourish  in our  churches !


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Ephesians 4:26,27 "Getting a Grip on Anger"

PLEASE NOTE : ANGER IS ON LETTER SHORT OF DANGER

On this Lord’s day we conclude our annual Family weekend, with our focus on ‘Dealing with the Heart of Anger'by turning our attention  to  Ephesians  4:17-32 and in particular verses 26,27: “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil”.

Our text shows us at least 4 things we need to know about anger:
(i)  there is  room for righteous  anger.
(ii)  we must  be careful to not let this anger spill  over into sin.
(iii) we must keep short accounts  of  our anger.
(iv) Satan easily abuses uncontrolled anger.

From this outline  we  can see  that anger  is a complex emotion, since it has  both a good and a bad  side.  Before we go there, a few introductory remarks to this text are in order.
In the greater context of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians this subject is raised within the   practical application section of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Paul is always concerned that our Christian faith must have a practical outworking. The knowledge of God and of Christ and of the Peron and Work of the Holy Spirit must work itself out in a life of biblical love and good works. In a   nutshell, Christianity is the following of, and the imitation of the life of Christ, our elder brother.

And so it is that Paul reminds this group of Ephesian Christians that, having become Christians, they can no longer walk as the gentiles do, in the futility of their minds…. (4:17- 19). You cannot be a Christian and continue in your old sweet merry way…. That is not the way you have learned Christ!  (4:20,21).  Instead, Paul says, you must put off your old self, which belongs to your former way of life and is  corrupt  through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit  of your minds, and put on the new self,  created  after the  likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness’(4:22-24). Then, in  4:25-32, he gives a few practical illustrations  of what the  renewed Christian mind (4:23) looks like and acts like. Among these is to be found an instruction on anger- our focus text.  

Christian ability is based on the fact that God has recreated us.  There is a great difference between moralistic Christianity and biblical Christianity. Moralistic Christianity is based   upon ‘self –effort‘, whereas biblical Christianity is based upon   the fact that you have received a new life.  What proves the fact that I have become a Christian, endowed with a new nature?  My desire to be obedient to a new way of thinking about God and His Word! And it is a new way of thinking!  It is often counter cultural, and contrary to the way in which we have been brought up, and  contrary to our societal norms.  Since we have come under new management  we had to learn to put off old habits of thinking and living and  put on new habits of thinking and living.   In fact, my new  behaviour  is not simply  due to the fact that I have decided to turn over a new leaf, but  it is  the outworking of an inner miracle!  This last Friday I turned 40 years  old ! It was on the 22nd of June 1978 that I was converted by the power of God. I was given a desire to follow and to ‘learn Jesus’ (4:20). I still have not recovered from that day, and I am still  following and learning by the principle of that inner miracle of conversion, and it is by that  power of Christ in me  that I live.   Have you received that new life and new power  by which you can live this Christian life?
So, I trust that you can see that  there  are immense issues  at stake in the everyday  issues of truth-telling, and anger, and stealing  etc.,  which Paul deals with now in  the verses ahead. Our particular interest lies  in dealing  with  the problem of anger through the recreated heart and the  renewed mind.  
Ephesians 4:26,27  says,  “Be angry and  do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity  to the devil.“

We have already observed that there are at least 4 things  that this text teaches us.  

1. There Is Room For Righteous (Good) Anger
It seems that Paul makes reference here to what David said in Psalm 4:4,  In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.“  The Bible recognizes that there is   a valid emotion called anger, but   there is a fine line between righteous and unrighteous anger.  What is righteous anger?
Righteous anger is being angry with that which God would be angry with.  Illustration: In Mark 3:5, Jesus was in a synagogue on the Sabbath. He was about to heal the shrivelled hand of a man.  The Pharisees were watching  to see  whether he was going to do,   what they considered to be an illegal work,  on the  Sabbath. The Scripture says, "Jesus looked around at them  with   anger, grieved  at their hardness of heart ..."  [ By the way , if Jesus  were  here among us  today, would He  not  be righteously angry with  our society for the  opposite  sin of the Pharisees  - the abuse of the Lord’s day,  which has been turned into  a market day, and  has ceased to be  day in which we delight ourselves in the Lord. In Jesus day the problem was legalism, in our day it is libertinism].
Jesus was angry because  these people ‘s hearts   made a  false distinction between the law, and  the God of the law.  The law is righteous and holy and good. God is righteous and holy and good. The law represents God. Our problem is  that  we take the law  and make it burdensome by  divorcing it from God. The 10  commandments , the moral law of God  are designed  to be a blessing from God for this life, but people like the legalistic  Pharisees thought that they must  become the policemen that would help God to maintain law and order, and in so doing they were  misinterpreting and watering down the  holy intent of the law. God does not want human interference in the application of the law. He simply wants us to love Him and honour Him in the keeping of the law. Can you blame God for being   angry with us when we abuse  His Name  and  His  holy law?   And you as a Christian,    with love in your heart for God,  and  with  a renewed, tender conscience,… when you get angry  at the misuse  of God’s law and the inversion of God’s law … are you not  sharing  in God’s anger?  John Stott writes in his commentary in Ephesians (p.186): ”… there is a  great need in the contemporary world for more Christian anger. We human beings compromise with sin in a way in which God never does. In the face of blatant evil we should be indignant not tolerant, angry not apathetic. If God hates sin, His people should hate it too.  If evil arouses His anger, it should arouse ours too.
In this spirit  Psalm 119:53 says:  “hot indignation  grips me because of the wicked, who have forsaken your law.”  There is room for anger, provided that is in agreement with God.

2.  In your anger do not sin
Here’s the tricky part about anger.  Righteous anger can so easily spill over into self- righteous anger.  We may become easily angered at the wrong that others do whilst failing to see it in ourselves. In our  anger we must be very careful that we  are not hypocritical.
In 2 Samuel 12:5  we read that   David’s anger  was greatly kindled  when the prophet Nathan  told him how a rich man  (who had a large number of sheep) took  the only  ewe lamb  from a poor family, in order to set a meal before his guest.  This unrighteousness greatly angered David. But  David had to  swallow his words  when Nathan reminded him  that he was in fact that rich man who took  away Bathsheba, the wife  of his general Uriah,  in  2  Samuel 11. David was caught out – for he engaged in hypocritical unrighteous anger.

Another aspect to David’s perspective:  David had seen so much  that was wrong in his own family – the rapes and the murders and the shenanigans among his sons and daughters, that he  no longer expressed any anger  at any evil that they did!  He overlooked or seemingly condoned their evil.   The reason for this was that David had lost the ‘moral high-ground’ to express his righteous anger. He was in no position to judge his children, because he himself was guilty of these things.
The way to avoid unrighteous anger  is  to take note of what James 1:19-20  has to say:  “… Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,  for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”  If we are slow to anger (i.e. act with patience), and if we control ourselves  and consider the matter carefully, then our anger, if it  arises  at all, l may very well be godly anger  when we discover that   God's character is dishonoured  and not ours, and when  God's aims are resisted , and not just ours.
Righteous anger is not self- centered.  Righteous anger happens when we become angry when God’s Name is dishonoured, and when other people are dishonoured.  So it is important that we look at  the motive for our anger , and to make sure that in our anger we do not sin.

3.  Keep short accounts with  anger
“Do not let the sun go down on your anger" means, that we should resolve our anger on the same day.  Sometimes  reconciliation is impossible on the same day, because it always takes two  to  settle the matter. When this happens, make sure that you do not nurse that anger, lest it takes hold of you and makes you a resentful, bitter person (Hebr. 12:15).  This reminds us then that anger, though it is a legitimate  emotion,  is a dangerous emotion and must not be allowed  to  dominate  us, lest it begins to control us.  John Piper gives good counsel: Anger is the moral equivalent of biological adrenaline. It is good and healthy to experience periodic secretions of adrenaline in reaction to dangerous situations. But a steady flow would damage the heart. So with anger. It has damaged many hearts because it was not put away, but nurtured again and again into a life-destroying grudge. [1]Seek to  settle your anger  as quickly as possible, since …

4. Satan easily  abuses uncontrolled anger .
The Scripture says that uncontrolled anger gives Satan a foothold – an entrance point into your life. When he finds this foothold, he will ruin marriages, families, churches and countries  with  resentment and bitterness. He feeds on angry people. It provides for him an opportunity  to export his fruit  of   hatred, violence  and  whatever else. Anger is a wind that easily blows out the lamp   of the mind” [2]. The  great danger with anger  is that it easily  makes us irrational . So,  don’t be fooled  into thinking  that when you become  irrationally angry or unforgiving  that you  are ‘entitled’ to these feelings. The devil  is laughing because he has found an effective  hold upon your soul, while you are still  nursing your grudge  and thinking that it is your right to do so. Angry and bitter people ultimately  always end up hurting themselves more than those  that they are angry with. Unforgiveness   happens when there is prolonged   and unfinished  business  with anger. Illustration:  In 2 Cor. 2:10,11  the apostle  Paul warns  the Corinthians  that a foothold for  the devil  is unforgiveness:  If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
Let these four convictions from the text then settle in our hearts and minds. You will not find such good and succinct counsel for your soul anywhere in the world.  Believe the Word of God and live by it and you will find yourself  blessed by God, both  now and forevermore.  Amen.  


[2] This  saying is attributed to Robert Ingersoll